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Dev Patel’s Quotes About Monkey Man’s Difficult Production Journey

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Dev Patel put his blood, sweat and tears into bringing Monkey Man to life — literally.

The action thriller centers around Kid (Patel), who uses the money he makes from an underground fight club to infiltrate the social scene of India’s wealthiest and most corrupt. Kid’s main motivation is seeking revenge for the murder of his mother, but he ultimately becomes the savior of the poor and powerless people tormented by their leaders.

In addition to starring in Monkey Man, Patel directed, wrote the script and produced the film. His devotion to the project goes back many years, with discussion about Monkey Man starting in 2018.

“The action genre has been abused by the system,” Patel said at SXSW film festival in March 2024. “You know, a quick buck. Mindless s—t. I wanted to give it soul. Real trauma. Real pain. You guys deserve that. I wanted to infuse it with a little bit of culture.”

Related: Everything to Know About Dev Patel’s Directorial Debut ‘Monkey Man’

Arturo Holmes/Getty Images Dev Patel didn’t plan to direct the upcoming action thriller Monkey Man, which he also cowrote and starred in. “I took it to Neill Blomkamp, originally,” Patel said during a Q&A following Monkey Man’s March 2024 premiere at South By Southwest in Austin, Texas. “Me and Neill were talking, and he went, (…)

Patel later recalled working on the movie for over 10 years, which caused him to turn down major roles. The actor also overcame a wide variety of obstacles such as injuries and budget issues that nearly shut down production on Monkey Man.

“You’ve got 450 people on an island (in Indonesia), and if I go down, the film goes down,” Patel shared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in March 2024 about choosing to ignore his injuries while on set. “You know, we had a purpose during a really prickly time in history. And I told my producer I was like ‘Don’t say anything. Let’s just keep filming.’”

That same month, Patel told fans during a Reddit AMA that producing Monkey Man was “the most demanding thing” he has ever done because “everyday we faced absolute catastrophe.”

Monkey Man, which comes out in theaters in April 5, 2024, also stars Sharlto Copley, Pitobash, Vipin Sharma, Sikandar Kher, Sobhita Dhulipala, Ashwini Kalsekar, Adithi Kalkunt and Makarand Deshpande. The movie was originally bought by Netflix, but prolific producer Jordan Peele stepped in and brought Monkey Man to Universal under his Monkeypaw company.

“This is a film that simply demands to be seen in a theater with a huge rockstar audience,” Peele said at SXSW before a screening. “I’ve never seen someone (Patel) pour his heart, soul, body, mind and energy into a film, into a story more than this man.”

Keep scrolling for Patel’s insightful quotes about the obstacles that plagued Monkey Man‘s production:

Breaking His Hand

Breaking Down Dev Patel Difficult Journey to Get Monkey Man Made 3
Universal Pictures

While speaking with Jimmy Fallon in March 2024, Patel recalled injuring his hand after previously fracturing his toes.

“Everything could have gone wrong went wrong. The first action scene I’m basically — I’m a crash test dummy that my costar is using my face to break every piece of porcelain in this bathroom, and my hand, I heard it snap. I was like ‘This is not good,’” he detailed. “By the end of the day my hand was like an elephant’s foot. And we couldn’t afford to put a cast on and VFX it out of this movie.”

Patel chose to shake off the injury instead of getting some rest, adding, “So we found a way to get around the system by getting this cheap medical private jet to keep the COVID bubble, and we flew to Jakarta that night. The doctor put a screw in my hand, and he goes ‘You cannot put more than a pound or two of pressure on this thing. Otherwise, it’s like pulling a bent nail out of wood. You will ruin your bone.’ … Actually, I went straight back to set the next day and was throwing myself and bouncing off a window.”

The Monkey Man crew was so grateful for Patel’s devotion that they later made T-shirts with a photo of his X-ray on them.

Various Budget Issues

Making Monkey Man during the pandemic came with major money problems. Patel told Fallon that some of the filming took place on his iPhone because a camera broke. The crew also had to glue breakaway tables back together to cover costs.

Nearly Losing Their Funding

Breaking Down Dev Patel Difficult Journey to Get Monkey Man Made 4

Dev Patel is Kid in ‘Monkey Man’.
Akhirwan Nurhaidir (ewet) / Universal Pictures

“I begged our financier not to shut us down a few weeks before principal photography,” Patel wrote via Reddit in March 2024. “We were meant to shoot in India then COVID hit. I lost my initial production designer and (cinematographer) and the film was basically dead, then we pivoted and went to a tiny island in Indonesia where we could create a bubble in an empty hotel for the whole crew of nearly 500 people. It was a grueling nine months of absolute joy and utter chaos.”

Making Due With What They Had

Breaking Down Dev Patel Difficult Journey to Get Monkey Man Made
Akhirwan Nurhaidir (ewet) / Universal Pictures

“All of the locations we prepped for months at — we lost day of — so we had to adapt last minute,” he continued in the Reddit Q&A. “The borders closed also, so I couldn’t bring in lots of supporting characters. I ended up having to put every tailor, lighting guy, accountant etc. in front of the camera.”

Patel continued: “Speaking of cameras, most of our equipment broke and we couldn’t fly in new stuff so we literally shot stuff on my mobile phone, go pros — when a crane broke we ended (up) creating this camera rig from rope which I termed the ‘pendulum cam,’ which swings over a large crowd of people then detaches and the operators run through the crowd whilst it was rolling.”

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Reusing Aspects of the Set

Everything to Know About Dev Patel Directorial Debut Monkey Man
Universal Pictures

According to Patel, there were days when production “literally didn’t have any money” to complete certain sets.

“One of our producers ran his personal credit card to buy the glass to cover the table tops,” he wrote via Reddit. “Speaking of tables, we only had three or four break away tables so once I would perform a huge bulk of stunts I would scream CUT and then immediately all of us would get on our hands and knees looking for all of the broken pieces of wood to glue the tables back together for the next shot.”

He added: “In a very long nutshell, every obstacle provided us with a new opportunity to innovate. BOOM!”

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